Yelmer Buurman crossed the finish line of the first race of the Sepang GP2 Asia Series weekend in fifth position to secure the first-ever points for the Ocean Racing Technology team.
Intense heat in Malaysia made the first race of the weekend a much harder challenge than originally envisaged but, despite that, Buurman made a strong start from eleventh on the grid, gaining five places on the first lap alone, before receiving a sterling pit-stop and picking up his previous pace to take another position and pass the chequered flag close behind fourth-placed Roldan Rodriguez. After several near misses, and a heavy accident last time out in Qatar, the four points were a welcome return for team and driver.
"We knew points were in our grasp and we could have scored on several other occasions, but it's a done deal now and it's proof that the team's hard work bears fruit," Buurman commented, "The start was crucial in the final result, and I gave my best knowing the team prepared a very competitive car."
Despite the Dutchman's confidence that fourth on the reverse grid for Sunday's sprint event could yield more points, torrential rain said otherwise, initially forcing the organisers to delay the start by almost an hour, and then leaving the drivers to face a flooded track.
With their two cars stationary on the grid, the team's engineers attempted to correct an electrical glitch, but could do nothing about the conditions and Buurman struggled home eleventh, while rookie team-mate Fabrizio Crestani added 16th to his earlier 15th from the feature.
"The car was really hard to handle and the engine had some on and off so, under difficult conditions, it was just impossible to keep my position," Buurman sighed, "Each time I had a power loss, I had no other choice than wait until the problem went away.
"They were unpredictable conditions and compromised our performance, but I still leave Malaysia with the satisfaction of having done a good job because we secured our first points."
With just four months under its wheels since coming into existence to replace the ailing BCN Competicion team in GP2, Sepang provided a good measure of ORT's growth. In addition to the performance on track, which underlined great teamwork between engineers and drivers, the mechanics carried out some of the fastest pit-stops in race one, leaving co-owner Jose Guedes satisfied with the result.
"We are living a very special hour for Ocean Racing Technology," he acknowledged, "We have worked hard to build this team, to make it progress and to improve our performances on track. Congratulations to Yelmer and to Fabrizio for their great races, but also a very special congratulation for my partner and also team manager, Tiago Monteiro, who could not join us today because of his SEAT Sport programme in the WTCC."
Speaking from France, where he was working with SEAT Sport, Monteiro admitted that hearing the news of Buurman's fifth place was 'like I was there'.
"I fully trust José Guedes and all the members of the team and we keep in touch all the time," the Portuguese admitted, "My driving career is still a priority and I have to make some sacrifices, but I was very happy at the end of the race because it proves that we're on the right track. But we want more, we want to bring it even further and we have what it takes to make it happen."